File Photo Cows

Lancaster County has 4,000 fewer dairy cows compared to 2012, the USDA's once-in-five-years census shows.

In the latest move to help struggling dairy farmers, the state is making $5 million available to explore new business opportunities, including more organic milk, and cheese and yogurt products.

The money will be used to give grants for researching new technologies, products and best practices, as well as for marketing to open state dairy products to new United States and international markets, according to Gov. Tom Wolf, who made the announcement at the 55th All-American Dairy Show being held through Thursday at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

“Today’s market has presented new challenges to dairy farmers that are requiring them to innovate and adapt in order to remain successful,” Wolf said.

“The new Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program is a key tool that incentivizes the dairy industry to support the often costly and difficult process of modernizing or expanding their business model or operation.”

Added state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, “This historic funding is not only a critical investment in an industry grappling with difficult global market conditions, but a critical investment in our largest sector of production agriculture and the people whose livelihoods rely on it.”

 To apply for a grant or read more about the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program, click here.

In another state program for agriculture, the Commonwealth Financing Authority approved a $400,000 low-interest loan to help Epsucheolige and Curtis Hoffman buy a 46-acre farm adjacent to their existing farm in Rapho Township.